Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson

Hello, Renée Watson! I LOVE when you visit Watch. Connect. Read. to celebrate story and books. I am super excited about Ways to Make Sunshine. Where did you get the idea for this new series? 

Renée Watson: Thanks for having me, Mr. Schu. It’s always so special to talk about story and books with you. The inspiration for Ways to Make Sunshine came from my love of the Ramona Series and my desire to see Black girls in stories where they play, explore, and get into all kinds of shenanigans.

What did you think when you saw the cover for the first time? 

Renée Watson: I absolutely love Nina Mata’s artwork. Ryan has her own unique style and she looks so confident and charming. I’m really proud of the cover.

This is your first series. What’s the best part about writing a series for young readers (ages 7-10)?

Renée Watson:At this age, imagination and play are still a big part of a child’s development and I had a great time writing scenes where Ryan could let her imagination take over and solve problems in creative ways. 

One of the best parts of writing a series is that the story doesn’t have to be completely tied up in book one. I love having threads through out Ways to Make Sunshine that will show up in the next book. It’s nice to stay with a character and see them grow from not just chapter to chapter, but book to book.

What were your favorite books as a child?

Renée Watson: I loved reading the Ramona Series—and all Beverly Cleary books. I also loved the poetry of Nikki Giovanni, Lucille Clifton, Maya Angelou, and Langston Hughes. 

Please finish the following sentence starters: 

Ryan Hart is good at a lot of things: cooking, swimming, being a helpful daughter and a thoughtful friend. But most of all she’s good at trying hard things, at stepping out of her comfort zone and doing her best. 

I hope Ways to Make Sunshine makes young readers laugh and inspires them to focus on the good things happening around them even when they’re having a not-so-good day.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about the real Ryan Hart! The main character’s name in this series is actually the real name of my Goddaughter. Like the character, the real Ryan loves to make up recipes and experiment in the kitchen and she is a thoughtful, kind person like the character. They both live in Portland, Oregon and I had a great time writing Ways to Make Sunshine with someone I know and love in mind.

Look for Ways to Make Sunshine on April 28, 2020. 

Bloomsbury's Description: 

Ryan Hart loves to spend time with her friends, loves to invent recipies, and has a lot on her mind—school, self-image, and family. Her dad finally has a new job, but money is tight. That means changes like selling their second car and moving into a new (old) house. But Ryan is a girl who knows how to make sunshine out of setbacks. Because Ryan is all about trying to see the best. Even when things aren’t all she would wish for—her brother is infuriating, her parents don’t understand, when her recipies don’t turn out right, and when the unexpected occurs—she can find a way forward, with wit and plenty of sunshine.

Newbery Honor- and Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Renée Watson was inspired to write her own version of Ramona, starring a Black girl and her family, in this charming new series.


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